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Famous Like Me > Composer > R > William Reid

Profile of William Reid on Famous Like Me

Name: William Reid  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 28th October 1958
Place of Birth: Glasgow, Strathclyde, Scotland, UK
Profession: Composer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

William Reid, VC, (December 21, 1921 – November 28, 2001) was a Scottish recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Act of Gallantry

He was 21 years old, and an Acting Flight Lieutenant in the 61 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve during the Second World War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

On 3 November 1943 on the way to Düsseldorf, Germany, Flight Lieutenant Reid's windscreen was shattered by fire from a Messerschmitt and the gun turrets and cockpit badly damaged. Saying nothing of his multiple injuries, he continued on his mission and soon afterwards was attacked again, his navigator being killed and the wireless operator fatally wounded. He was wounded again, and also the flight engineer, while the Lancaster received more serious damage. Pressing on to his target, Flight Lieutenant Reid released his bombs, then set course for home and in spite of growing weakness from loss of blood, managed to land his crippled aircraft safely.

Biographical information

William Reid was born at Baillieston, Glasgow, on 12 December 1921, the son of a blacksmith. He was educated at Coatbridge Secondary School and studied metallurgy for a time, but then applied to join the RAF.

After training in Canada, he received his wings and a commission in June 1942, then trained on twin-engined Airspeed Oxfords at Little Rissington before moving to OTU, North Luffenham. There, his skill as a pilot led to his being selected as an instructor, flying obsolete Wellington bombers, albeit with the promise of a posting to a Lancaster bombers unit.

The posting did not materialise until July 1943, when he was sent to 1654 Conversion Unit, Wigsley, near Newark, where he flew his first operational mission as second pilot, in a Lancaster of 9 Squadron, in a raid on Munchen-Gladbach.

In September he was posted to 61 Squadron at Syerston, Newark, to commence Lancaster bombing operations, and flew seven sorties to various German cities before the raid on Dusseldorf.

After a period in hospital, Reid went to C Flight 617 ("Dambuster") Squadron at Woodhall Spa in January 1944 and flew sorties to various targets in France.

In July 1944, 617 Squadron was linked with 9 Squadron for a "Tallboy" deep penetration bomb attack on a V-bomb storage dump at Rilly-la-Montagne, near Rheims. As Reid released his bomb over the target at 12,000 ft, he felt his aircraft shudder under the impact of a bomb dropped by another Lancaster 6,000 ft above. The bomb ploughed through his plane's fuselage, severing all control cables and fatally weakening its structure, and Reid gave the order to bail out.

As members of his crew scrambled out, the plane went into a dive, pinning Reid to his seat. Reaching overhead, he managed to release the escape hatch panel and struggled out just as the Lancaster broke in two. He landed heavily by parachute, breaking his arm in the fall.

Within an hour he was captured by a German patrol and taken prisoner. After various transfers, he ended the war in Luckenwalde PoW camp, west of Berlin.

Reid left the RAF in 1946 and resumed his studies, first at Glasgow University and later at the West of Scotland Agricultural College. After graduating from the University of Glasgow in 1949, he went on a travelling scholarship for six months, studying agriculture in India, Australia, New Zealand, America and Canada.

In 1950, he became an agricultural adviser to the MacRobert Trust, Douneside. From 1959 to his retirement in 1981, he was an adviser to a firm of animal feed manufacturers.

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article William Reid